June 30, 2020
Question: When a wife (or a husband) is interested in yoga or spiritual life, and the spouse is not, and so resents it, what should one do?"
Swami Venkatesananda: Naturally, it is good to realize that "You asked for it!" You chose to get married; you loved and still love your spouse, and you want this harmonious relationship to continue. Otherwise, the question does not arise. Millions of marriages break up on other (and flimsier) grounds, but it becomes a real problem particularly to those interested in a spiritual life, whose conscience is awake and questions one's actions and motives. When the conscience is asleep, the mind rationalizes everything with greatest of ease.
In any relationship there is some interaction — give-and-take. Sooner or later expectations build up. One's reasonable expectations are considered unreasonable demands or compulsion by the other. But we do see that we serve one another anyway — either feeling compelled to do so, or is a duty, or out of love. Is it not possible, then, to do whatever one does, out of love? Yes, it is. Why not?
We do what we do because we love the other person — and because we wish to be love, incapable of violence — not with a desire to please the other. It is not possible to please all — not even a spouse — always. When you try to please another there is no loving you but a lot of effort. Moreover, all this may raise the expectation still higher, bringing displeasure closer! Hence the yogi practices ahimsa (non--violence). If you eradicate all violence, all wrong motivations, and all expectations from your heart, you will be love.
Expectation is violence; to resist expectation is violence, too. But it is possible to refrain from expecting that the spouse should not expect you to do what he or she expects you to do. Being a yogi, it should be easier for you to understand the other! Otherwise, what sort of yogi are you?
Must you always fulfill everyone's expectations? Can you? When you can you will. If you cannot, but if you are a yogi full of love, the other person will surely understand. Well, there is always some who will not! So what!
Agree with thine adversary' is a sacrifice also!